Hitchhiking Tales. Paragliding in Bulgaria, Hated in Bosnia, Brass Band in Croatia
The following is an excerpt from a series of emails I sent to a friend while hitching through eastern Europe:
Piotr and I just said goodbye this morning. He's heading for Poland and right now I'm thinking of staying a day or two in Belgrade.
We started from Istanbul then to Bulgaria where we stayed with a group of people who run a sports outfitter called Extreme Bulgaria. They do all kinds of extreme sports. They took us biking and skinnydipping in an ice-cold lake, then on the last day we went paragliding! It was my second time ever and was so so beautiful. And then to Sofia, and on to Belgrade. It's a cool city, got a great vibe. But my favorite place yet was Sarajevo. Wow. Simply stunning mix of mosques with Catholic and Orthodox churches. Bosnia is an absurdly beautiful country.
In Bosnia we got picked up by a guy who took us home and his sister fed us. That was before he found out I was American! When I went out of the room, he turned to Piotrek and said "Polska good. American..." and made a throat-slitting motion! Eek! But his sister adored me and gave me a big jar of ajvar--a spread made with red peppers, tomatoes, and aubergines.
Piotrek's a good guy, but it was funny how little we have in common. He's anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-feminist! Haha, my opposite.
Hitching alone was easy peasy. I got a great ride in a sleek, swift new black Mercedes which took me all the way to Zagreb in no time flat. He was going 160 the whole time. Awesome.
Tomorrow I leave for Budapest. That's the plan. Hitching alone again! Tonight to a big music festival to hear Kocani Orkestar play! (They play great brass Balkan music, a whole orchestra.)
I made hummus :) And I've been biking a lot through these little Croatian villages, filled with grapes and huge red apples and dogs that bark at me as I pass. And the people in the cars that pass me are jealous because I'm riding a beautiful black bike and singing as loud as I can and filled with so much happiness I think I might burst.
This happens to me: I'm sitting or walking or doing anything really, and then I feel some physical expansion in my heart, like my heart opens up and face itches and has to smile and I feel so much warmth and bliss and true happiness. And I just want to kiss everyone and everything!
I met a girl tonight and we might hitch together. But I just don't know, I get a weird feeling about it. I almost think it might be better to continue alone. You know how I feel about women.
In Zagreb I saw Kocani Orkestar play and danced with a guy who kept clutching at his heart as if in pain over how much the music moved him. In Bulgaria, Piotrek and I hitched with a guy who we think was a mobster. He owned a casino and the cops tried to stop him on the road, but then recognized him and let him pass. And you would be proud of me I think because on the way to Budapest, I hitched with a guy who tried to feel me up, but as soon as he touched my thigh, I just said, quite forcefully, "No." And he stopped and said something in Croatian, probably something along the lines of "It was worth a try!"
And Budapest has these clubs, these underground cellar-like clubs filled with mismatched retro furniture and kids who think they're so fucking cool. Then there's me, in my stinky shoes and tie-dye hippie shirt but no matter because I dance and close my eyes when I dance because it's just for me. I'm not trying to impress anybody. And I let my fucking boobs hang out and jump up and down until they both hurt from bouncing, but I can't stop jumping and smiling and closing my eyes. But why is it that men I'm not interested in want to dance and grind with me? I just jump and dance away from them. This girl I met tonight said I have an energy and that's why I meet perverts. Maybe she's right, I mean you know me, I'm always horny and thinking about sex. So maybe people can pick up on that, even though I don't realize I'm putting it out there.
I think my next stop will be through Serbia, Macedonia, Albania, then Greece and back to Turkey. Then I will fly either to Hong Kong or Delhi. I'm leaning towards Delhi because I have cousins there. But who knows.